How to Make Natural Paint

Up until the discovery of petrolatum and the introduction of toxic chemicals, paints were created using natural ingredients such as: linseed oil, lime, casein from milk, turpentine, citrus oils, chalk and hemp oil.

Natural pigments were also used to color the paint. However, this is not the case anymore.

Although major paint manufacturers are now producing more environmentally friendly paints, a good majority of them can still contain more than 450 hazardous substances, mainly voc's.

Voc's (Volatile Organic Compounds) belong to a family of chemicals that evaporate quickly and leave an undesirable odor such as toluene, xylene and formaldehyde.


Toluene, also known as methyl-benzene or phenylmethane is a clear, water-insoluble liquid and is derived from the tropical Columbian tree Myroxylon Balsamum. Low levels also occur naturally in crude oil.

Toluene is typically found in paints, paint thinners, chemical reactants, rubber, printing ink, adhesives, lacquers, leather tanners and disinfectants. The toxic fumes enter the human body through vapor evaporation and soil contamination.

Long term effects of deliberately inhaling toluene can cause an array of damage, mostly to the brain. Low exposure can also have side effects, especially to women who are pregnant.


Xylene is a highly flammable solvent that is used in the printing, rubber and leather industries. It is a colorless sweet smelling liquid that is often inhaled deliberately because of it's intoxicating properties. It can be found, among others, in paint, paint thinners and varnishes.

Xylene is very toxic to the brain causing a variety of symptoms depending on the levels of exposure. It can cause headaches, confusion, skin and eye irritation, difficulty in breathing and at very high levels can cause death.


Formaldehyde is a toxic gas used predominantly in the embalming industry to preserve human remains and fix the tissues. Textile industries use it on fabric to maintain crease resistance. It is also used by paint manufactured.

Formaldehyde can trigger allergies, asthma, irritate the eyes and cause headaches. It is a known toxin, allergen and carcinogen.

Oil paints are the worst offenders, containing up to 60% of voc's while water-based latex can carry up to 10%. Wood stains can also be just as toxic. Fumes can trigger allergies, asthma and disorders of the nervous system. They are also responsible, in part, to ground levels of smog.

Reducing any ill symptoms due to voc's can be as simple as choosing eco-friendly varieties or making your own.

Create you own!

So, if you'd rather not use chemically laden paints, then whip up your own batch using the recipes below. Have fun!

Milk Paint Recipe #1

1 Quart skim milk (room temperature)

1 Once of hydrated lime by weight ( Do not use quick lime)

1 to 2 1/2 pounds of chalk may also be added as a filler.

Stir together milk and lime to form a smooth paste. Add color pigment of your choice and apply with a natural bristle brush. Allow first coat to dry sufficiently before applying another. Finish off with an oil finish if desitred.

Milk Paint Recipe #2

One Gallon Skim Milk

Two Cups Builders Lime (Do NOT use Quick Lime)

One Quart Linseed Oil (the boiled type)

1/2 Cup of Salt

Dye (Color) add in as needed

Mix all ingredients together and strain through a cheesecloth. Use within a day or two.

Milk Paint Recipe #3

Powdered Skim Milk


Food Coloring

Mix just enough pwoder and water to create the consistency of paint. Add food coloring of your choice or make a tincture with various herbs and vegetables. Strain through a cheesecloth.

Flour Finger Paint


  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • Saucepan
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • Wire whisk or eggbeater
  • 1 1/4 cups hot water
  • Food coloring or powdered tempera paint

Mix the flour and salt in the saucepan. Beat in the cold water until the mixture is smooth. Mix in the hot water and boil the mixture until it's thick, then beat it again until it's smooth. Tint the paint however you like with food coloring or powdered tempera paint. Cover the paint and refrigerate it for storage.

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Comments 79 comments

Blueassea profile image

Blueassea 9 years ago from Ontario Canada

well i will have to try doing my own paint will try on one of my old dressers

singpec476 profile image

singpec476 9 years ago from Not Too Far Away

Amazing hub I never thought about making paint it is one of those things you just go and buy and never consider that with a little thought you can make your own. Thanks

Peter M. Lopez profile image

Peter M. Lopez 9 years ago from Sweetwater, TX

This is really interesting. Great hub.

RainbowRecognizer profile image

RainbowRecognizer 9 years ago from Midwest

Thank you very much - I love to do whatever I can naturally :o)

topstuff profile image

topstuff 9 years ago

That seems to be easy.

Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai

Just wonderful, Chantel! This will set me off on a delightful, natural route to finger paints!

Brett445 profile image

Brett445 8 years ago from Bangkok and Sydney

Fantastic hub. Thanks for this. I'm going to give it a go and make my own paint.

lizzie14 8 years ago

what chalk?! chalkdust or grinded chalk!! can you tell your answer to me pls!! we and my classmates were making thesis: paint out of chalk

chantelg4 profile image

chantelg4 8 years ago from Northern Ontario Author

As far as chalk is concerned, it really depends on how paint is needed. For small projects, you can grind chalksticks, however, for bigger projects, I would use the chalk dust. Chalk dust is easier for obvious reasons and you may find the colors to be more vivid plus you can add your own coloring.

pooten 8 years ago

is one of these paints good for painting on clothes?

if not can someone tell me where to make paint for clothes

filarecki profile image

filarecki 8 years ago from United States

Great info. I'm an artist and use all different mediums. I'm also into natural alternative medicines. It sound like natural home-made paints would be worth a try. I'm always experimenting with paints that are decreasingly toxic since I am asthmatic. Do you have any suggested resources I could look into?

austin 8 years ago

there are actually some good quality paints that are not very toxic at all. the sherwin williams Harmony paint has 0 VOC's and i'm pretty sure Duron's Genesis also has 0 VOC's. the problem with making your own paint is that it won't dry with a film over the pigment. if you wash it, you might take it down to the original color

8 years ago

will the paint mold? I heard of adding wint o green or clove to homemade glue/paste to slow it from molding.

girl interupted 8 years ago

can you use milk paint on any walls of the house i read that it's not good on damp or humid walls please let me know

Loreto 7 years ago

Does anyone have any advice on how to make your own eco-friencly fabric paint? I can't find much anywhere!

Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

Just wonderful, Chantel!

johnny stafford 7 years ago

can you make paint out of what our body produces? i know blood but is there any way to really make paint with any body chmicals or liquids?

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

thanks for great tips, I like painting, but I just know the natural paint material from this hub.

Celly 7 years ago

i think it a good idea to make paint from home use able's it good not to spend money some times.

Barbara 7 years ago

Thank you for the receipe Has anyone out there tried it? Does it smell like spoiled milk? How is the finish? Does it really wash off as someone mentioned? Is there a way to glaze it if this is true? I am really interested in this if it works. Please write if you have tried it. Thanks

windflare profile image

windflare 7 years ago from USA

My guess is that milk paint is not archival (and therefore not for the serious artist). 

By the way, you buy CHALK DUST in a good hardware store and probably places like home depot. Chalk dust can also be added to paper mache to make it stronger.

Bredavies profile image

Bredavies 7 years ago

Nice Hub!

joy 7 years ago

great, give me an idea for my research..thank you

benjie 7 years ago

well my mother wanted me to get info on this, and i think this is it :)

sheryld30 profile image

sheryld30 7 years ago from California

This is awesome!! Always wanted to know how to make natural paints, but mine just never seemed to work out. Thank you sooo much for the tips!! :)

dreamghurl 7 years ago

how about fruit paint? can i do that?

nikki1 profile image

nikki1 7 years ago

great information, thanx for sharing.

camille 7 years ago can make a paint from a fruit?can you help me tnx...

tim-tim profile image

tim-tim 7 years ago from Normal, Illinois

Very interesting! I heard of milk paint. I never knew how to make it or where to get them. Thanks for sharing!

kenbera 7 years ago

that is so good of ider i must go try it now

Handmade-Crafts profile image

Handmade-Crafts 7 years ago

Some really useful tips. Will definitely being experimenting. Thank you for sharing.

Juliana 7 years ago

Have anyone tried to make the art oil paint mixing it with the food coloring and possibly safe oil paints? All of my favorite colors, bright red, orange and yellow contain cadmium,, led ...

What about the chalk dust with safe oil paints you can purchase?

I am trying to make more profesional paint for my art work, then the milk paint.

Any advise? I trully appreciate it.

RosWebbART profile image

RosWebbART 7 years ago from Ireland

Great hub.

festmeny profile image

festmeny 6 years ago from Hungary

Very exciting to read and ver informative. Gotta try some of this. Thanks chantelg.

Rose 6 years ago

Im a good painter. its awesome how i can easily make paint like this :D

Ava and *unknown* 6 years ago

The naturel paint is just amazing! me and my friend made some and add some glitter! It looked amazing:D

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Life Unplugged 6 years ago

Hi Chante ,sounds really ecofriendly ,I have strong aversion for oil colours ,coz the chemicals used are quite hazardous ,as mentioned by you as well, so natural colours are better option.

But I really wonder about their sustainability and longetivity ,if you could add that too in your hub ,it would complete your hub in all sense.

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starreviewer 6 years ago from CT, USA

the milk paint recipes are great... guess i should give it a try. thanks for sharing this info.

MKayo profile image

MKayo 6 years ago from Texas

Great info. I have been a painter for almost 40 years and I always wonderd about the toxicity levels in some paints and paint chemicals. Thanks for the Hub.

phoenixzebra 6 years ago

This is not intended in any to be a criticism of your excellent article.

Re: Farrow and Ball. Dorset is not a little town but a county probably close to the size of Rhode Island.

Ivie 6 years ago

thankx a lot. i love to use and make anything useful and unharmful with toxics so thankx muches!!

ribena nutlicker  6 years ago

um this really helped me with my home work

rembrandz profile image

rembrandz 6 years ago from Dubai Media City

Extremely informative hub!! This is just the thing I have been looking for in ages. I can't wait to try it out.

michael emala 6 years ago

i will use this page to make a natural paint in my science investigator projects

luisa may jumawan 5 years ago

it is a wonderfull creation it can help us to reduce the use of chemicals

rag 5 years ago

this is fantastic i will try it you people realy helped cause i had a presentation and cause it is a good idea .

Wendy Mills profile image

Wendy Mills 5 years ago from Wainfleet, ON, Canada

Good information, but I thought I would add some info. from the artist's perspective. Actually casein is a milk paint used by artists for centuries and is very archival. Also, I was just reading in the book, Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond that any milk paint should be made with the casein, which is the milk curd, rather than the milk itself. She said that when milk paint is made with milk instead of casein it is not durable and spoils. A good source for natural artist pigments and recipes is

Great topic! I wrote a free ebook that I put on my Homeschooling-Freedom site called Save Green the Smart Way and am currently researching more eco-friendly ways to be more self-sufficient and save money, so I really like to see articles like this!

LaurieK profile image

LaurieK 5 years ago from Minneapolis, MN, USA

Very interesting to learn how to make paint they way they did it before all our modern, toxic chemicals were invented!

Jessica Pfohl 5 years ago

This is great information. It is really a shame that we've moved away from using natural, safe ingredients and that conventional paints today are full of chemicals, many of which are not even disclosed by the manufacturers. To your list of natural paint companies, I would aadd

Jessica Pfohl 5 years ago

This is great information. It is really a shame that we've moved away from using natural, safe ingredients and that conventional paints today are full of chemicals, many of which are not even disclosed by the manufacturers. To your list of natural paint companies, I would add our company, Unearthed Paints. All of our products are zero-VOC, all natural, and vegan. We also disclose all of our ingredients and hope that other paint companies will follow our lead.

Liz Goltra profile image

Liz Goltra 5 years ago

Great article. Thank you for posting!

Tracy 5 years ago

Not sure if the people looking for eco fabric paint got their answers but I found this company via "Crafting a Green World" It's not a recipe but it's good eco screen printing ink/paint:

marimccants profile image

marimccants 5 years ago

Great hub! Natural painting promotes clean and green environment. Voted up!

Hendry Richard 5 years ago

this is so nice paintaing nature

snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 5 years ago from Canada

interesting, thanks for sharing

BLAHBLAH 5 years ago

yeah thanks a lot!!! geez

Timmy 5 years ago

this helped so much with my homework thxs

hannah 5 years ago

awesome paint i love it

kamal gupta 5 years ago

it help a lot

Sarah 5 years ago

great tips - can any of the recipe used to paint on natural fabrics - clothing - cotton, silk etc ? and if not, do you have any tips, links or other suggestions ? I am having such a hard time finding a recipe to print on fabric.

thank youuuuuu

aliana 5 years ago


Jane Conner profile image

Jane Conner 5 years ago from New York

Very cool! I have heard from my friends that are artist that some red paint comes from beetles crushed up in India. Kinda gross, but very natural.

Better Yourself profile image

Better Yourself 5 years ago from North Carolina

Really enjoyed this hub! Thanks for sharing you knowledge of paint and especially the recipes for natural paints!

Paapa 5 years ago

I cant believe this specks combine for something as good as beauty,Well i wanna learn more from you.

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squiggle666 5 years ago

Having lived in England all my life, I was surprised to learn that Dorset is a small village. I was always taught it was a county, which is marginally larger than a village.

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iamaudraleigh 5 years ago

Thank you for writing something refreshing :). My aunt would like this hub ( I do too)! She is very crafty. Plenty of good ideas here!

anonymous 4 years ago

what kind of natural ingredients would you say to use for colouring??? please reply as i need to know asap;)

anonymous 4 years ago

also will the paint spoil or mould after a while??? is it safe to use on walls?

Ashlee 4 years ago

Well i made paint with my mum and these are some of the colours:







Ashlee Gaylor 4 years ago


nikka 4 years ago

is it possible to use Kans grass as a pigment and to establish an eco-friendly paints that can be used on walls and woods?? please.. need it on my Investigatory project.. =)

carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

I love all your natural recipes for paint. I never thought of making my own paints. Thanks for sharing this most interesting hub. Voted UP

jainismus profile image

jainismus 4 years ago from Pune, India

Great Hub, thank you for sharing this useful information.

doll 4 years ago

i try it my home its good

doll 4 years ago

what tuyp of flour we use plzzzzzzzzzzz tall me ok :(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(

nichole 4 years ago

i thought i will be hard but is not it is fun

katie 4 years ago

Careful with linseed. If left out for long periods of time, it can combust. I'm not kidding!

advappica 3 years ago

When i used to acquire high on lifetime but lately I've truly built up any opposition.

Mylindaminka 3 years ago

До Вершины 15 минут, но бежать ради встречи на ней первых лучей – форменный кретинизм, учитывая наше состояние. За время Последнего Боя многие из команд нас обогнали. Вот, блин, вам и БАНДА! Банда Рыг и Безногих Карликов.

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